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Air Handler Condensate Recovery at EPA

EPA’s Science and Ecosystem Support Division (SESD) and National Exposure Research Laboratory (NERL), both located in Athens, Georgia, completed significant water recovery projects using air handler condensate recovery in FY 2008.

Background

During building cooling, air passes through the chilled cooling coils in the air handling units (AHUs) prior to entering the facilities. In summer, the weather in Athens is often hot and humid, so as air passes over the cooled coils, condensate forms rapidly, dropping moisture from the air onto the cooled coils. The moisture then drips into a collection pan below the unit.

On those same hot and humid days, the cooling towers at these facilities are working hard, requiring generous amounts of make-up water from the local utility to replace water lost to evaporation.

Previously, condensate would flow to drain, putting the nearly distilled-quality condensate to waste. Instead, these facilities decided to put that water to work.

Waste Meets Need

SESD and NERL installed air handler condensate recovery systems to re-route the collected condensate from the AHUs to their cooling towers to be used as make-up water, reducing the amount of potable water needed for cooling tower processes.

SESD and NERL completed the air handler condensate recovery projects using different design and installation techniques unique to their facilities. SESD designed a system with new pumping and piping, while NERL utilized existing infrastructure for its system. Both achieved significant water savings results with site-specific solutions. SESD and NERL are anticipated to save 500,000 gallons per year each in potable cooling tower make-up water.

A schematic drawing of the SESD air handler condensate recovery system
Schematic of the air handler condensate recovery system at SESD.

National Impact

In addition to the air handler condensate recovery systems at SESD and NERL, the following facilities have implemented similar projects, tailored to the design and layout of each facility:

These systems combined are estimated to save 3.8 million gallons of water per year across the Agency.

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